Meet the majors' first two 9-game winners

787788.jpg

Meet the majors' first two 9-game winners

From Comcast SportsNet
WASHINGTON (AP) -- On a bright, sunny afternoon, R.A. Dickey had the Washington hitters swinging at shadows. The knuckleballer baffled the Nationals, limiting them to four singles over 7 1-3 scoreless innings and leading the New York Mets to a 3-1 win Thursday. Dickey (9-1) extended the longest shutout string of his career to 24 2-3 innings -- a span that began against Pittsburgh and continued against San Diego, St. Louis and the Nats. "Literally, when I go out there, the only streak I care about is getting that hitter out," he said. "It doesn't change the mentality because there's a run of scoreless innings." Dickey became the first pitcher in the majors to reach nine wins this season, backed by Lucas Duda's fifth homer in eight games. Dickey also exceeded his victory total from last year, when he often was the victim of poor run support. "I'm getting more swings and misses. Other than that, I'm not doing anything differently," Dickey said. "I'm trying to induce them into hitting pieces of the ball, not getting solid contact," he said. Nationals teen Bryce Harper fanned twice. He awkwardly chased strike three in the first inning, then casually flipped his bat. No luck today, rookie. "He throws it hard, throws it soft. Sometimes, it starts at your face and goes down through the strike zone. He's a pretty unbelievable pitcher. It was pretty fun to face him, but going 0 for 4 is not fun," he said. "You're just trying to look for something up in the zone or just trying to swing as hard as you can or something. I don't even know. This is my first time really facing a knuckeball guy like that," he said. Duda hit his 10th homer, a two-run shot in the fifth against Chien-Ming Wang (1-2). Daniel Murphy, who earlier bounced into an inning-ending double play that left him in a 0-for-19 rut, later added an RBI single. The way Dickey has been pitching lately, those three runs were more than enough. He struck out eight and walked two, and most of the outs were soft ones. When Adam LaRoche worked out an 11-pitch walk, it was a major accomplishment. Mets manager Terry Collins said nice weather has been a factor in Dickey's good fortune, allowing him a better grip and therefore better command. "When you get in that batter's box, you better be ready to hit something that's fluttering," he said. Dickey credited a harder knuckleball -- thrown in the low 80s mph, up from the mid-70s -- with giving him a later, better break on the pitch. "I feel comfortable with where I am with the pitch," he said. "And look: It's a knuckleball. It can be fickle." Washington never got a runner past second base when Dickey was on the mound. He worked out of a two-on, no-out jam in the seventh and left after Jhonatan Solano's one-out single in the eighth. Reliever Bobby Parnell walked Rick Ankiel and after the runners moved up on a grounder, Harper grounded out to end the threat. Frank Francisco gave up Ryan Zimmerman's leadoff home run in the ninth before closing for his 15th save in 18 chances. The win stopped the Mets' three-game losing streak heading into the Subway Series that begins Friday night at Yankee Stadium. The Mets had lost the first two at Nationals Park in the series. Wang allowed eight hits in 5 1-3 innings in his second start of the season. The Mets won for just the second time in 10 meetings with Washington since last September. There wasn't a whole lot for Nationals fans to cheer about on a bright afternoon until Zimmerman's third homer. Midway through the game, however, there was a ripple of applause throughout the crowd of 32,096 when clouds briefly blocked the glare.

------------------
HOUSTON (AP) -- David Freese struck out three times in the first six innings Thursday night. He more than made up for it over the last three. Freese hit his first career grand slam and a two-run homer and rookie Lance Lynn struck out a career-high 11 in earning his ninth win as the St. Louis Cardinals cruised past the Houston Astros 14-2. It was the first career multi-homer game for Freese and his six RBIs tied a career-high. "A typical night. Start slow and finish fast," Freese said with a laugh. Freese's slam in the seventh inning was the third homer of the game for St. Louis. He added a two-run shot in the ninth as the Cardinals scored a season-high. Carlos Beltran connected on his National League-leading 16th homer in the fifth and Shane Robinson added a two-run shot in the seventh to help the Cardinals take the series. Lynn's nine victories are tied with R.A. Dickey of the Mets for most in the NL. Lynn (9-2) allowed six hits and two runs to continue his mastery of the NL Central. He is 7-0 with 60 strikeouts in 15 career appearances in the division. "You could tell he felt really good today," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "The ball was jumping out of his hand he was blowing fastballs pretty good." Houston starter J.A. Happ (4-6) allowed five hits and four runs with five walks in 4 2-3 innings. The Cardinals were up 5-2 before piling on seven runs in the seventh. St. Louis batted around in that inning with 11 Cardinals coming to the plate. Rafael Furcal singled with two outs in the seventh before consecutive walks to Beltran and Matt Holliday. Allen Craig hit an RBI single before Freese's shot to the Crawford Boxes in left field cleared the bases. Jed Lowrie gave Houston a 1-0 lead with a homer to the first row of the Crawford Boxes in the first inning. Brett Wallace doubled in the second on a ball that sailed over a leaping Craig and into the far corner of right field. Chris Johnson followed with an RBI double down the right field line to make it 2-0. Chris Snyder hit a one-out single and Jordan Schafer drew a walk to load the bases with two outs. Lynn limited the damage by striking out Jose Altuve to end the inning. The Astros couldn't get much going offensively after that while the Cardinals heated up. Tyler Greene got the Cardinals' first hit -- a single to start the third inning. Happ then battled Robinson to a 12-pitch at-bat before walking him. Greene and Robinson both advanced on a sacrifice bunt by Lynn before Greene scored on a bunt by Furcal to cut the lead to 2-1. "When as a team you're fighting at the dish and he goes up there and has a 10-plus pitch AB, you feed off that," Freese said of Robinson's at-bat. "I think every team feeds off that. "The good teams that end up winning the division and getting in the playoffs, one through nine, they battle in the box. The goal as an offense is to not let the pitcher have an easy inning." A sacrifice fly by Beltran tied it at 2-2, before Holliday walked. Craig's broken-bat RBI single to shallow right put St. Louis up 3-2. Happ finally got out of the inning when he struck out Freese on his 40th pitch of the frame. Beltran's first-pitch homer to left center came with one out in the fifth to push the lead to 4-2. Robinson singled in the sixth and scored on a single by Furcal with one out. Houston manager Brad Mills made some strange changes in the ninth inning when he put outfielder Brian Bogusevic in to pitch and moved Johnson, the third baseman, to right field. Bogusevic was drafted as a pitcher, but had never pitched in a major league game and it was Johnson's first career appearance in the outfield. "It's something that is probably the last thing that a manager likes to have to go through, but to put that together to get through it, that's what we had to do," Mills said of the ninth-inning changes. Bogusevic allowed three hits and the home run to Freese in one inning. "It felt kind of strange, but once I knew I could throw strikes, I was more comfortable," Bogusevic said. Freese felt like hitting the homer off him was payback for one he took from him with a leaping catch in the stands on the Cardinals' last trip to Houston. "I don't like it. It's weird," Freese said of facing him. "But Bogusevic robbed me the last time we were here, so I'm going to count that one."

Quick Links

Wieters two-run HR propels Orioles past Blue Jays

Wieters two-run HR propels Orioles past Blue Jays

BALTIMORE—It’s silly to label games as “must win” when 30 still remain to be played. But, after the Orioles lost to the Toronto Blue Jays in the first of a three-game series, they fell a season-high four games behind in the American League East. 

Sure, the Orioles have mathematically been in the postseason picture in each of their first 132 games, but in the past two weeks, their place got a lot more tenuous. 

On Tuesday night, they made sure they’d stay relevant for a while longer by beating the Toronto Blue Jays 5-3 before 16,083 at Oriole Park. 

With the win, the Orioles (72-60) moved back to within three games of the Blue Jays (75-57) in the American League East.

It was Matt Wieters who broke a 3-all tie in the eighth inning with a two-run home run. 

It was Ubaldo Jimenez, who many fans feared would have little chance against a legitimate American League Cy Young Award candidate, J.A. Happ. 

Jimenez actually outpitched Happ, and only a two-run home run by Michael Saunders in the seventh prevented him from getting the win.

“It feels really good. It’s something I wanted to do since the beginning of the year. I wasn’t able to but I never give up. I always figure out a way to get up and be there for the team and I’ve been able to be there for him the last two games. Hopefully it keeps going,” Jimenez said.

Jimenez is filling in for Chris Tillman, who is on the disabled list.

“He’s had two good outings in a row in a time of need. Real proud of him. He was solid. He had a lot of pitches could have gone his way, a lot of borderline pitches. He was down in the zone almost the whole game. The one he got up was the home run to Saunders. But he was solid. You can say a lot of different things about things that happened in the game, but none of it means anything if we don’t get that type of start from him,” manager Buck Showalter said. 

Jonathan Schoop walked against Jason Grilli (4-2) with two outs in the eighth and then Wieters hit his 12th home run, and the Orioles had a 5-3 lead.

“It’s a big game. We’re going to be playing a lot of teams in the division, so there are going to be a lot of big games. I think the key is to be able to enjoy this one and move on tomorrow. We’ve got to come back and win another one tomorrow,” Wieters said. 

Brad Brach (8-2) worked 1 1/3 scoreless innings, and Zach Britton pitched the ninth for his 39th consecutive save. 

Brach often seems to be the beneficiary when the Orioles pull off a late-inning win. Is he just in the right place at the right time? 

“Some of it is, but most of it is because he’s good. And most of it is we like him in there with the game on the line,” Showalter said. “It’s so hard to be consistently contributing and being there for us as Brad and Zach have been all year. Nothing about the ninth inning is ho-hum either. This is a very good ball club over there and you got to keep your foot on them when you got them down."

RELATED: Orioles great headed to Maryland Hall of Fame

Jimenez lasted one-third of an inning when he last started against the Toronto Blue Jays on June 12. This was much better. 

Toronto scored a run in the second when Saunders doubled and scored on Kevin Pillar’s two-out single. 

The Orioles scored three in the fifth on Steve Pearce’s 13th home run and Manny Machado’s 32nd, the 100th home run of Machado’s major league career. He’s the youngest Oriole to do so.

"It’s a big number. It’s a huge number. Not a lot of guys have 100. To get to that milestone is something that I’m never going to forget. And just getting this W. Every time I get a milestone or something, (if) it comes out with a W it just makes it a lot better,” Machado said.

“To come out with a W on top of your accomplishments. It’s very humbling. I’ve worked hard to get where I am. It’s not like I’m sitting around, not doing anything. Everyone in here works to get to certain situations and I finally got to one. I reached one, I could knock it out, knock it out of my checklist. Now is a time to keep playing baseball and try to knock out another one off my checklist, which is to try to help this team get somewhere that it hasn’t been in a long time.”

NOTE… Aaron Sanchez (12-2, 2.99) faces Yovani Gallardo (4-6, 5.69) on Wednesday night. 

 

 

Quick Links

Scherzer dominant as Nationals edge Phillies 3-2

Scherzer dominant as Nationals edge Phillies 3-2

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Max Scherzer didn't allow a hit until the sixth inning and he was dominant through eight as the Washington Nationals continued their mastery of the Philadelphia Phillies with a 3-2 victory Tuesday night.

Scherzer (15-7) allowed three hits and struck out 11 while walking one. He was perfect through the first four innings, striking out five consecutive batters -- all swinging -- between the second and third innings.

Ryan Howard, who got the start despite being 1 for 18 with 11 strikeouts against Scherzer coming in, hit an opposite-field two-run home run in the seventh inning to break up the shutout and pull the Phillies within 3-2.

But Scherzer closed the door from there, striking out three more in the seventh and eighth en route to his 15th win of the season.

Mark Melancon pitched a scoreless ninth for his 37th save, getting a strikeout and inducing a game-ending double play after issuing a leadoff walk.

Freddy Galvis and Odubel Herrera collected the only other hits for the Phillies, who have lost six of eight to fall 12 games below .500. They have dropped their last eight games to Washington, which matches the team record for consecutive losses vs. the Nationals/Expos franchise.

Scherzer, who pitched two no-hitters last season, didn't allow a runner to reach base until Phillies catcher Cameron Rupp walked with one out in the fifth. Galvis ripped a double to right-field to lead off the sixth to break up Scherzer's no-hit bid, but was picked off second base by Scherzer to end the scoring threat.

Scherzer has allowed just five hits in his last two starts after pitching a two-hit, eight-inning gem vs. Baltimore on Thursday. He's taken a no-hitter into the sixth in nine of his 61 all-time starts with the Nationals.

The Washington ace also had a sacrifice-bunt RBI in the fourth after Ryan Zimmerman walked and Danny Espinosa ripped a single. The inning ended when Espinoza was thrown out at the plate on a dart from Phillies right fielder Aaron Altherr with Espinoza colliding with Rupp on the play.

The Nationals staked Scherzer to an early lead in the first inning. With two outs and nobody on, Daniel Murphy doubled before scoring on a double by Bryce Harper, his 19th RBI in the last 19 games. Wilson Ramos brought Harper home with an RBI single to put the Nats ahead 2-0.

Phillies starter Jerad Eickhoff (9-13), who walked just six batters in his last eight starts coming in, issued three walks and allowed five hits and three earned runs through six innings.

Scherzer's double-digit strikeout game was the 12th of the season, setting a Nationals record. He improved his career record to 7-1 against the Phillies, including a 6-0 mark since he joined the Nats in 2015.

The Nationals, who opened their six-game road trip with a 4-0 victory over the Phillies on Monday, are 7-1 at Citizens Bank Park this season.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Phillies: Peter Bourjois missed his second straight game after getting hit in the left wrist by a pitch Sunday.

UP NEXT

The Phillies and Nationals wrap up their three-game series Wednesday night with Philadelphia LHP Adam Morgan (1-8, 6.50) opposing LHP Gio Gonzalez (9-9, 4.25).

Quick Links

Former Terp Shaun Hill could be in line to start after Teddy Bridgewater injury

Former Terp Shaun Hill could be in line to start after Teddy Bridgewater injury

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater suffered a dislocated knee along with a completely torn ACL and "other structural damage," the team announced on Tuesday evening. 

With the injury almost undoubtedly ending Bridgewater's season, the football question begins to arise. Who will play quarterback in Minnesota? The answer could be former Maryland Terrapin.

Shaun Hill, a veteran journeyman, could be the next in line, barring a move by Minnesota to acquire another quarterback. 

MORE TERPS: 4-STAR DEMATHA OFFENSIVE LINEMAN PLEDGES TO MARYLAND

As currently constituted, Hill is on the roster along with former Wisconsin QB Joel Stave and former Old Dominion QB Taylor Heinicke.

Hill, 36, came in for the injured Bridgewater last season against St. Louis after the quarterback left the game with a concussion. Minnesota would win, 21-18, in overtime.

Hill has played for four teams during his NFL career -- the Vikings, 49ers, Rams, and Lions. He has thrown for more than 8,000 total yards and has a career passer rating of 85.2.

Before turning pro, he helped Maryland to the 2001 ACC title as a senior. The Terrapins would reach the 2002 Orange Bowl and end the season ranked No. 10 overall.